Unicorn Hat

This Christmas I fell in love with the Unicorn Hat from the awesome team at Pimoroni.



The Unicorn Hat is a beautiful bank of 8x8 RGB LEDs ((WS2812B) which are easily programmable with a Python API.

I am using my Unicorn Hat with a model A+ as a countdown to my family holiday to Florida next year. Running off a decent 2A power supply and connecting to my WIFI network there is no need for a keyboard and a mouse. With just one power lead connected and a WIFI dongle I have a very small and bright marquee message display panel.



The code for my project can be found here on github.

Projects using the scrolling text will require the UnicornHat Scrolling text code from https://github.com/topshed/UnicornHatScroll

I am really impressed that for under £45 (including a model A+) you can build a compact and bright LED messaging display.

The Unicorn Hat API is very easy to use and the guys at Pimoroni do include enough detail and examples to get you started. I do intend to buy another one and introduce it to my pupils at school. This could be a very good tool for some Python programming.

One word of warning: It is bright when displaying at 100%. People with photosensitivity should also take care when using this especially when making the LEDs do flashing patterns.






Protocam II

Protocam (Mark II)

Whilst at CamJam I caught up with Richard (AKA @AverageManVsPi) and had a quick chat about his latest version of the Protocam board. Check out my first review here.

Again, this looks like a great idea and I do hope to try it out soon with my new Raspberry Pi model A+

Pi Certified Educator

Reflections on my first half term as a certified Raspberry Pi Educator

It has been nearly half a term since I attended the October 2014 Picademy at Cambridge. I am very proud of my Certified Educator badge, but as we know it is more than just having a badge.

certified-educator-blog SO

One of the phrases we often get at school is “So tell me about the impact”. This has got me thinking about what is the impact of my two days at Pi Towers?

Since October I have ...

  • Had 5 Friday Raspberry Pi club sessions
  • Worked with a local Primary school on getting started with Minecraft programming
  • Organised and led workshops at the Birmingham Raspberry Jam
  • Delivered a two hour Pi session with non-IT teachers at school
  • Delivered three hours of Pi Minecraft workshops at Covent Garden Raspberry Jam
  • Produced several more Raspberry Pi themed resources for school
  • Helped document the Cambridge Raspberry Jam Pi Wars event
  • Worked with the school engineering project on using the Pi as a timing system for modelling real world problems
  • Got to grips with GitHub and uploaded my various projects (thanks Ben Nuttall for the tuition)
  • Built a time lapse camera to use within Science lessons
  • Designed a program of outreach workshops for gifted and talented year 5 and 6 students
  • Started to develop links with the School of Education at Cambridge University
  • Worked out ways in which the Pi can be used to support a student’s D of E application
  • Built a Raspberry Pi powered Christmas tree for my classroom

Not bad really for a Chemistry teacher who loves the Pi!


When Philip met Liz and Eben

When Philip met Eben and Liz Upton .....

Whilst at CamJam (PiWars) Philip found himself sat next to two Pi Celebrities - none other than Eben and Liz Upton. We have met Liz a couple of times before at events but never Eben.

During the presentations I quietly told Philip that he was sat next to the inventor of the Raspberry Pi. I’m not sure he believed me and it wasn’t until Liz and Eben presented a prize that Philip really believed me!

At the end of the afternoon we asked if we could get a photo and here it is!


There is a funny story attached to this photo but to save Liz’s blushes I won’t share it here!




We had a really great day at Cambridge yesterday at Pi Wars. I must say a really huge thank you to Mike and Tim for organising such a great experience and for everyone who entered a robot, showed a robot, exhibited and generally helped on the day.

The day was full of fun, games and challenges and it was really great to see all the effort and time which had gone into building and programming the robots.



The PiPiano

The PiPiano

Earlier this year I saw a young guy walking around CamJam with a very interesting looking add-on for the Raspberry Pi. Later I discovered that it was Zach and his Raspberry Pi PiPiano.

It is really great to see that he has already exceed his funding goal of £500 on Indiegogo and is currently up to around £800. If you want to support this great project check out the link here.

So what is the PiPiano?

Simply, it is an easy to use, educational, musical add-on board for the Raspberry Pi. The PiPiano has 13 buttons and 3 LEDs for information or timekeeping!

What can it be used for?

As well as using it as a Piano it can also be used an extensive controller with 13 buttons that has many practical uses.

I need some help?!

The kits can be purchased either unsoldered or for an extra couple of pounds pre soldered. They are expecting shipping in March 2015. Zach has also produced a comprehensive set of documentation here.

This is a great project to back and I thoroughly recommend it.